Monday, June 04, 2012

Sermons Shaped by Story

I found myself preaching in two different churches in consecutive Sundays. I have not been preaching regularly for a long while since the Burmese church had cancelled its English worship two years ago. So the long break from preaching gives me an uncomfortable feeling. I have to find my way back to what I had been doing almost every Sunday for more than eighteen years. I still believe that preaching is one of the most important thing that God's servant could do beside the other ministries that are entrusted to him.

However, I am giving a lot of thoughts of preaching the stories from the Bible. I am used to preach from the propositional portion of the Scripture. This means that I love preaching from the epistles of Paul, John, James and Peter among others. I do a lot of expository study of any given book and divide it to three or four propositional truths. Then I explain, illustrate and find application for the hearers' every day life. The sermon I preached after a long while is a story and I found that here in Thailand, believers seem to enjoy listening to a story than listening to a propositional speech.

So I am considering that I will be doing narrative preaching in the future. But first, I need to learn to do it effectively. I googled "preaching through stories" and found a good article about doing it.  At Reformed Worship they provide me with ideas how to do it. Here are some of the guideline questions in creating a narrative sermon.

(1) What is the plot? How does the action move? Where is the crisis point? What is the resolution?
(2) What is the setting? What kind of place or places does it involve? What do they look like? What is the effect of the setting on the plot and the people?
(3) Who are the main characters? The minor? What is the nature of their interaction? What can we know about them?
(4) What is the point of view in this story? Does it change? If so, what is the significance of the change?
Careful consideration of these questions enables the pastor to answer the final one:
(5) What meaning or vision of life does this story reveal? What is its message, and how does the story help deliver that message?

Moreover, the author tells that it is:
best (and certainly more possible for a wide range of preachers) to use a narrative text from Scripture, letting the story inform and shape the structure of the sermon. Such a sermon is more than a simple retelling of the biblical text. It involves a particular way of approaching and studying the text, out of which the sermon then flows. One might think of one bank of a river as a story text, the other bank as the lives of the preacher and the congregation, and the sermon as the water that flows between the banks, shaped by them but not identical to them. 

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